In 1990 New Line Cinema struck gold when they brought a live-action version of "Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles" to the big screen. The movie surpassed $100 million at the box office, a bigger deal in those days, and spawned two sequels that helped build the once independent studio into a major powerhouse in Hollywood. When it was announced that Michael Bay would be a producing a re-boot of our heroes in a half-shell, the news was hardly met with enthusiasm from fans, especially when a rumor started that the turtles were going to be aliens and not mutants. Today, August 8, the movie finally hits theaters and get ready to be shell shocked because it is an entertaining fare.
Crime is at an all time high in New York City, largely due to a new gang known as The Foot Clan. Up and coming news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is trying to get more on the growing story, but is at the moment stuck doing fluff pieces. The police seem to be helpless to stop the crime wave, but there may be hope, from the sewers of all places. Nobody has seen them, Nobody knows who they are, but four mysterious individuals may be the city's best hope, and April O'Neil might finally land the story of a lifetime!
Normally, this column stays pretty much spoiler free, but here is one that should be let out, the turtles are NOT from outer space. They are the mutants the titles claims them to be. There is even a little joke about it in the movies. In fact, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is a pretty funny movie. Funnier than any of the previous incarnations that was released in theaters. There are a good many laughs and lighthearted moments that were not expected. A nice surprise for sure.
Director Jonathan Liebesman does pretty well delivering the action in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." The first scene where the turtles show up is a good one and the battles will keep getting better for turtle fans. One aspect that Liebesman did really well at was incorporating slow motion shots in the middle of an action scene. Each time it was done it felt like the perfect time to slow things down and see a close up of one of the turtle's faces or see them dodge some deadly knives. Innovating filmmaking. In addition, for the third week in a row, another movie has a successful 3D conversion.
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is not without problems. Some people are criticizing the look of the new turtles, especially because they have noses. Hey, they are mutants, that means they could have a third eyeball. The turtles from the 1990 version was one of the last creations from Jim Henson and they did look good, but these new turtles are able to show much more expressions and you can see them all act. However, the Spinter from the original movie looked much better than the one designed for this movie. There was also problems with the CGI. There is one scene where April is talking to Spinter, but the eye line is way off in the scene. She looks like she is talking to someone right next to him. Finally, the newly designed Shredder is laughable. It's like someone decided to take the old Shredder costume and combine it with a Swiss army knife. Whoopi Goldberg is in the movie as April's boss. Her comic talents are not utilized here and it feels like a wasted opportunity for a movie that was already providing some good laughs.
Some people are probably wondering how Megan Fox is in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Especially given the fall out that happened between her and Michael Bay. She performs well in the movie. In other incarnations of the character, April O'Neil was already an established reporter. It was a fresh take to see her in the infancy of her career and Megan Fox is able to show the hunger she has to see her dreams of making it big in the news field come true. Credit should also be given to the filmmakers for not exploiting Fox's hot looks she is better known for, like in the Transformers series. There are no belly shots of her bending over a car or her wearing tight shorts in this movie. They even gave April her signature yellow jacket for good measure.
The Turtles, Leonardo, Donatello , Michelangelo and Raphael all maintain the personalities fans have grown up with and love. Leo is the responsible leader, Don is the tech guy, Raph is the rough hothead and Mikey is a fun loving, skateboarding free spirit. They all have their moments in the picture and the voice actors behind them, including Johnny Knoxville who provides the voice of Leonardo, do a good job from behind the microphone.
Don't expect too high praise for "Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles" from the critics, but who cares what we have to say anyway? Most of us probably went in with low expectations and I was guilty of that too. However, while some critics will not be open to changing their minds or they are afraid of what other critics would think of them if they gave this movie a good review, I never have such fears. If you are a fan of the turtles, you should like this movie and even if you really don't know them, you should still have an entertaining night out. It is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.